Venezuela's Time of Crisis


WHEN | Summer 2016 - 10 Weeks.
FOR | SCAD Facilitating Creative Thinking.
WHAT | Facilitate a creative thinking workshop to non-designers, for them to creatively communicate both ideas and possible solutions to problems. For this to work I had to apply lateral-thinking strategies and create engaging activities.
ROLE | Facilitator & Designer.
CONTRIBUTIONS | Workshop ideation & facilitation, created video presentations of the process and developed the process book.

For the final process book click here

Venezuela is a country in crisis, and it has been for several years. Economic crisis, insecurity everywhere with murders and kidnappings in every corner, and shortage of supplies. There are several neighborhood watch communities that help each other and let each other know when a crime has been committed since the police cannot be trusted. I contacted one of this organizations and they where happy to be involved. People in Caracas, are in constant stress, always looking over the shoulders, never knowing what could happen when they are out and even in their homes. All these issues bring up many others such as constant stress, sleep depravation, depression, paranoia and so on. With these activities the team can find new coping mechanisms, finding better ways to keep each other inform and many more. After, they can share it with the other neighborhoods and friends so they can be a little safer, a little happier and watch out for each other.

The workshop began with a warm-up activity to make them comfortable and ease them into the different exercises. Then, we moved on to quick visualizations, brainstorming, lateral thinking, 5W's and deep discussions of situations they face in their daily lives. We finalize the workshop with a wrap-up activity. Overall the event went smoothly. Even thought they where discussing a hard, emotional, touchy subject, all the participants where talkative and participative throughout.

At the beginning during the warm up activity they struggled to open up, they where not sure what to share. During the break they relaxed and talked with each other. Thanks to this they where more loose and open during the second part. One thing that kept coming up was the insecurity and safety, Venezuelan's do not feel safe anywhere and that is huge problem. For this they came up with several coping mechanism that hopefully will help them and others live their lives. Another interesting part while the 5W's exercise,  they share events, people, and places that can be problematic so they can avoid them or take different routes, actions, etc.

One of the participants goes over one of the activities, she explains her lateral thinking process and result.

One of the participants shares her experience and learnings after the activity was over.


Things to keep in mind for next sessions.
Cell phones, turn them off or leave them out of the activity time.
Language, Venezuela is a Spanish speaking country. All the team members speak English as a second language and agreed to do most of the session in English but a few struggled and didn’t feel comfortable speaking and had issues with some words.
Documentation, it would be best to have the help of someone else to document the session. I did the session and documentation and was not able to include myself into the images or video.
White board, I believe white boars are great in general but specially for this kinds of sessions and brainstorming. It would have been great to have one so we could do quick visualizations that where visible to everyone.


This project taught me to look at things differently, think outside the box and helped me become a better team leader. It also taught me different ways to bring people together, activities to break the ice & get information from a group, and real life experience.
Everything has its up and downs, and there where a few through the process. Choosing the team members, schedules, language barriers, getting people outside their comfort zone, etc; but at the end everything worked out. Overall it was a great experience and the team was very helpful and enjoyed themselves.

I was not sure what to expect from the day of the event. What we were going to do, what anything entailed. It was good to know that I’m not the only one stressing constantly about going outside of my house and that many of us feel the same way. I enjoyed the lateral thinking part because I had no idea what that was and I like looking at things differently.
— E.R.

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